Landscaping with river rock

What Is River Pebble Mulch: Learn About Using River Rock Mulch In Gardens

Mulches are used in landscaping for a variety of reasons – to control erosion, suppress weeds, retain moisture, insulate plants and roots, add nutrients to soil and/or for aesthetic value. Different mulches work better for different purposes. The kind of mulch you choose can have positive or negative effects on the plants. This article will address the question: what is river pebble mulch, as well as ideas for landscaping with rocks and pebbles.

Landscaping with Rocks and Pebbles

When we hear the word “mulch,” we oftentimes think of wood chips, straw or composts. However, landscape rocks are also generally described as mulch. Just like organic mulching materials, rock and pebble mulches have their pros and cons in the landscape.

While excellent at controlling erosion, rock mulches do not help retain moisture in the soil like organic mulches. In fact, rock mulches tend to heat up quite a bit in the sun, causing the soil beneath them to be hot and dry. They also reflect sunlight up at plants, causing excessive transpiration and drying out. Because of this heat, dryness and dense coverage, rock mulches do work well to suppress weeds.

Overtime, organic mulches break down and decay in the landscape bed. As they do this, they add valuable nutrients to the soil that benefit the plants. Unfortunately, this breakdown means organic mulches must be reapplied and topped up every year or two. Rock mulches do not break down and don’t need constant reapplication. But they also do not add any nutrients to soil.

While the initial cost to fill landscape beds with rock mulch can be very costly, the rock lasts much longer, saving you money in the long run. Another benefit to rock mulch vs. organic mulch is that beds mulched with rock do not provide hiding spots and adequate breeding grounds for many pests and diseases like organic mulches do.

Another drawback to rock mulch, though, is that it is hard to plant new plants in and is pretty much permanent once it has been laid.

River Rock Mulch Landscape Ideas

River pebble mulch is harvested from riverbeds. It is one of the most common varieties of rock mulches and can be found by various names like river rock or Mississippi stone. Most garden centers or landscape supply stores will have river rock available in different sizes, from small pebbles to large chunks.

Unlike granites or lava rock, river pebble mulch is comprised of smooth stones in natural tones of tan, gray, etc. They may not have the bold color or texture of some other rock mulches, but they are excellent for natural looking beds.

Using river rock mulch is probably not a good idea for your annual beds or vegetable garden, as it is very hard to plant in several inches of stone. It is fine to use in permanently planted beds, like rings around large trees or other areas where you plan to just plant once and be done with it.

Because they are not flammable like some organic mulches, rock mulches are excellent for use around fire pits or grills. Landscaping around pools or ponds with river rock mulch can also keep the area tidy and dry.

Ideally, due to its lack of moisture retention, rock mulches are best when used with drought tolerant or rock garden plants.

Mulch: Bark Vs Rock

Various types of materials can be used as mulch. You can even find most of these things inside and outside your home – newspaper, cardboard, and rubber, plus leaves, grass clippings, and wood chips.

Many property owners, however, debate whether to use bark or rock as mulch in their gardens or landscapes. This is because these two materials work well as mulches that effectively prevent moisture loss and weed growth. They also aid in controlling soil temperature and helping improve the overall aesthetics of your garden or outdoor space.

Each of these two types of mulch has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you’re still choosing between bark and rock, here’s a comparative look at these two varieties that you can consider when making your decision.

Moisture retention

One of the main reasons why it is important to spread mulch on your garden is so that it can help ensure that the soil retains enough moisture to nurture plants. If this is your priority, bark or wood is the ideal option since they are effective in helping soil retain water. This is because as the mulch decomposes, it improves drainage and water retention.

Rock mulch, on the other hand, is ideal for yards and gardens with little rain and for plants that do not require copious amounts of water. This type of mulch will also work best if there is a drip irrigation system installed so that the soil still regularly gets small amounts of water.

Weed control and prevention

Both types of mulch can help deter the growth and spread of weeds. Bark mulches can do this naturally. However, rock or stone mulches will require the installation of a weed barrier before they should be spread on the ground. To completely reduce and control the weed population, regular mulching and applying the right weeding techniques are still crucial.

Total outlay and maintenance requirements

Lastly, you should also consider the cost and maintenance requirements for these two mulch varieties.

Wood mulch is cheaper in terms of initial outlay. The product is cheaper but it needs to be replaced or reapplied every one or two years. However, as new mulches are spread, new and more organic materials and minerals are added to the soil, making it healthier.

Rock mulch, on the other hand, presents a higher initial cost than wood mulches since the product itself is expensive and permanent. Also, landscape fabric or weed barriers have to be installed below the rocks to block weeds. You also need to invest in some edging material to keep gravel out of your lawn. The upside to this is that you don’t have to change the rocks every year or so.

In Australia, the most popular types of wood mulches are eucalyptus, hoop, and pine barks. For rock mulches, river and scoria are the most widely used.

When making your decision, don’t forget to consider other important factors as well such as the weather condition in your area, the plants you have in your garden, and the overall look you want to have for your outdoor space.

  • By admin
  • In Landscaping

10 Awesome River Rock Landscaping Ideas

River rock has become a popular landscaping material, due to its natural beauty, versatility, and low-maintenance, budget-friendly curb appeal.

Here are 10 ways to incorporate them into your landscape:

1. Mix and match

Combine river rocks with other natural elements in your yard to create a visual style. You can use them to fill in gaps between flagstones or create a border around a mulch bed. Just be sure to limit options to two or three variations to keep it coherent.

Kevin M. Klerks, Klages Mill and Gardens

2. Create your own river rock creek bed

For purely aesthetic purposes, use river rock to create a dry creek bed that winds across your property, leading the eye through your landscaping. You can also use it to channel water through the property, which will solve drainage problems in areas where grass or other material may erode.

Rexness, Dry Creek in Low Water Garden

3. Build an oasis

Get creative, and make your own personal retreat. Use river rock to create a meditation walk or courtyard retreat, complete with a fire pit or butterfly garden. The options are virtually endless.

4. Make a pathway

River rock can make a welcoming and functional walkway, entrance, or garden path. Use border material to hold the rock in place, especially if you will be mulching or mowing along the edges.

5. Create a border

Fill border areas next to a fence, living wall, or other large structure. River rock not only stands out visually, it stays in place better than lighter materials.

6. Use as a mulch replacement

Smaller rocks can replace wood-based mulch in gardens and around bushes. With a multitude of colors to choose from, you can create a visually appealing, low-maintenance landscape.

7. Accent a rock garden

Use river rock to accent larger focal pieces, such as angular boulders. Using varying shapes and sizes of similar material places emphasis on structure.

8. Contrast with vivid plants

Muted rock colors such as gray or tan are the perfect canvas for bold flowers. Play around with design ideas to draw the eye in and around your area.

9. Dress up a large structure

River rock can make a lasting, appealing veneer around a large structure, such as an outdoor fireplace. Or you can create an outdoor shower with a bare-feet-friendly, naturally draining river rock floor.

10. Shape it

There are a few different ways to create shapes with river rock. You can use bender board to carve out an area for a rock bed or use the rocks to surround shaped areas of grass or other vegetation.

Have ideas or questions about landscaping with river rock? Bring them to Wilson Blacktop, where we carry a wide variety of landscaping materials, which we will deliver within a 50-mile radius of our home in Martins Ferry, Ohio.

Landscaping Rocks

Landscaping Rocks are a selection of decorative rocks for use in landscape design. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors to meet any project need. Landscape rocks are perfect for creating dry stream beds or water-wise landscapes. They are also perfect for adding focal points to your landscape design. Landscaping Rocks include rock ground cover, flagstone, river rocks, boulders, polished pebbles, and cobble stones.

NOTE: In-stock product selection will vary between locations. Please call ahead to check availability.

Rock Ground Cover

Sizes: 1/8″-3″

Polished Pebbles

Sizes: 1/2″-2″

Cobble Stone

Sizes: 3″-12″

Rubble Stone

Sizes: 4″-12″


Sizes: 15″-30″


Various Thickness

What are the different types of Landscaping Rocks?

Landscaping rocks includes a variety of different sizes and styles of rock and stone. Below you can find a brief description of each category of landscape rock available at RCP Block & Brick. For questions on products and their proper applications, please contact an RCP Block & Brick near you.

Rock Ground Cover landscaping rocks includes decorative gravel, river rocks, and beach pebbles. This landscape rock ranges in size from 1/8″-3″ and is sold by the cubic yard or by the sack. Rock Ground Cover landscaping rock is used for such projects as covering larger areas with rock, or adding color and texture to planter areas.

Polished Pebble landscaping rocks are smooth, rounded natural decorative pebbles that have been polished with wax to give an unmatched shine and luster. Polished Pebble landscaping rocks range in size from 1/2″-2″ and are sold by the sack. This type of landscape rock is perfect for adding a clean and unique aesthetic to any landscape area, planter boxes, or between stepping stones.

Cobble Stone Landscaping Rocks are medium sized, rounded natural stones anywhere between 3″ and 12″ in size. Cobble Stone is sold by weight, Great for natural stone accents in yard or landscape design, or when creating natural stone features such as dry stream beds, ponds, or waterfalls.

Rubble Stone Landscape Rocks are a selection of medium sized, angular natural stones anywhere between 4″ and 12″ in size. Rubble Stone is sold by weight. Great for natural stone accents in landscape design, building natural stone walls, or even for filling fire pits and aquariums.

Landscape Boulders are the largest available landscaping rocks. Landscape boulders range in size from 15″ to 30″ and are sold by weight. Excellent for adding natural stone focal points to your landscape design, landscape boulders are an excellent addition to any yard.

Flagstone is available in various thicknesses and is sold by weight. Flagstone is a term that refers to large, flat pieces of stone. Flagstone includes types of stone such as quartzite, slate, and sandstone. Perfect for creating flagstone patios, flagstone pathways, or steps through garden areas.

Some people don’t like the dry arid feel of lava rock; maybe it doesn’t feel like the right fit for their garden, or they don’t know how to handle the boldness of the red tone.

In this post, we will try to convince you that not only is lava rock one of the most versatile landscaping assets; but because it’s bold accents work best in understated environments.

Besides the classical red/brown lava rock, we will dive in other alternative materials used for fire pits with similar accents such as the black lava rock, black lava glass or obsidian, reflective fire glass, natural fire glass and landscape glass.

Before we begin, you should know is that these alternatives fit most of the same design rules. Lava rocks, lava glass, and many shades of fire/landscape glass have dark, earthy and matte help to balance the moody greens, blue’s from pools and other colors from arid foliage.

Related: Check out our landscaping pebbles that are designed to make your yard or patio dazzle!

  1. Lava glass

Synthetic lava glass is a compressed dark glass made in volcanic environments. It is best used in more minimalistic, dry, and non-reflective decor environments due to its glossy surface.

You get the same reflective surface from our glasses with reflective fireglass being the most shiny, followed by natural fire glass and landscape glass at an even tie. From a Decor perspective, the large chunky landscape glass works best with cooler, pale tones and is a good asset in cold modern themes. Natural fire glass works well when you pair it with like colors so it blends in better.

Here’s a rule of thumb that works with all strong assets; blend the scene with pale background tertiary elements and add in complementary lighter touches of the same tone to balance everything out. Red/beige/light pink or pale brown colors will do the trick.

If you’re intimidated still, try it out with a medium asset like the red lava rocks. Some would say it’s a little overwhelming, but you can use it in complementary contrast with dark greens or as an accent to tan flagstone without any issue. No design experience necessary to experiment.

On the natural glass side, less overwhelming Fireglass like Bahama Blend™ works the same way because it is a mixed color scheme containing many calming colors like Aqua, Ocean Blue and Turquoise.

  1. Setting the mood

Lava rocks excel at setting the mood for a scene. As an understated design element once integrated into a scene matte, moody stones provide a subconscious base for every motif you create. It’s the classical “devils in the details.” Very often that’s literally the only difference between good design and just exposing nice assets.

That’s why I love lava rocks and understated elements that absorb and create energy in their given environment. As a filler in pots and/or flower beds, they mute the background and allow the foliage to shine, most notably in the case of some waxy desert plants with shiny leaves. The black lava rocks are essential for any Hawaiian or Pacific Islander designs and fit very well in Japanese or South Asian inspired projects.

The classic lava rocks are great for providing a garden with an ancient, earthy feel. The red hue comes from iron oxidation within the lava, so any similar iron oxide heavy soil will fit perfectly with red lava rocks, pebbles or gravel.

The texture of lava rocks is rugged and matte, which pairs nicely with both lush Pacific themes and arid dry southwestern themes.

Our Natural Cobalt Blue fireglass provides a great accent for jungle designs and a great base for more Hawaiian style projects.

Synthetic obsidian and fire glass are great for adding depth and spicing up the scenery. As such, lava glass works best with modern or fusion interpretations that don’t go anywhere and use at most 1-2 tones of color in them. Lava glass adds texture and a color accent to a minimalist scene. The darker and moodier the better in this case.

  1. Sponge vs Crystal

Lava rock is actually a solidified sponge, it’s very porous, and that comes with some added features and problems. For example, I heard of it exploding when used in a hybrid water and fire features. Apparently, water was splashing on the porous scorching hot lava rock. And as those droplets of water evaporated, steam would push into the pores of the rock, expand them and send fragments of scorching hot rock into the living room on hardwood floors. So porous stones, good for firepits, good for water features, bad for a water feature firepit.

Otherwise, the fact that it’s porous has some great advantages. It’s lightweight, easy to move around and use. Crushed lava rock works great as mulch, it’s lightweight, so it’s easy to work with, arrange, maintain and clean-up when compared to other gravel or stone mulches. It’s light weight also means that it’s less likely that young stems will have an easier time when trying to push through the stones for sunlight.

The air pockets act as the air gap between the glass and the soil, slowing down the heat transference trough the rock. By covering a flower bed with it, the ground doesn’t get direct sunlight which helps the soil retain water better. The same effect works in reverse during the night. The rock retain heat better than the soil, which keeps the soil warm… like a blanket.

Lava rock’s thermodynamic properties make it an ideal bed for plants that are sensitive to temperature changes over the day-night cycle.

Wood mulch works better for water retention and dissipation, however it works best at retaining water when paired with lava glass. and lava rock shines when it comes to temperature regulation. So your choice will also depend on the plants you have and their needs.

Rock mulch is easier to keep clear of weeds because it doesn’t decompose, so it doesn’t end up feeding them like natural mulch. This also makes it cleaner and requires less maintenance because it doesn’t need changing every year. In fact, combined with a fabric weed barrier, you will rarely see any grow past it.

Essentially, lava rock outperforms wood mulch in wet environments and is a sustainable alternative to thirsty turfs in arid environments because of its ability to regulate soil temperature.

Fire glass is tempered glass. This makes it very heat resistant. Fire glass can withstand very extreme temperatures and pressure, like Pyrex, another type of tempered glass. Its high density makes it absorb a lot of heat that it radiates out with great intensity. This makes Fire glass a potential passive heat source.

Black surfaces reflect very little light, which makes for a darker low light scene. This is a detriment for most landscaping assets, but that’s enough for these shiny elements. What is glaring in natural light or in a bright white room, becomes mild and tasteful under a dark matte surface or in a zen garden improvised in the middle of the city surrounded by large apartment blocks and pollution on an overcast day. That capacity to reflect any light makes it add glimmer and some cheekiness in the environment even in low light. It’s a very underused trait because people are afraid to go overboard.

Yes, you must always take into account that it has a dual nature and that the more light it has available, the stronger it’s effect. But you can always downsize. It’s not a window you carve out of the wall.

Speaking of brightness, that adaptive nature of glass also becomes a very unique feature in very bright environments as you will see later.

Despite its name, lava glass is not translucent and is more similar in feel, look and use to dark smooth river rocks but with more surface glare. Which would be a less expensive alternative to obsidian and feel free to replace lava glass in any of these ideas with Mexican river rocks for a more budget friendly option. But keep in mind that they are not as shiny.

A good general rule of thumb, when dealing with such reflective elements, start out with less at first and then adjust after you see how light moves around it over 24 hours until I get the desired effect at the brightest point. Even in small quantities, you get a feel for what it does to a scene, so if it works, you’ll just have to figure out how much you need afterward. I set my glass right in front of the warm morning glow of the early morning Sun. It has a magical effect on the living room, and in spring it’s almost fantasy-like.

  1. Vibrant walls and irresistIble waterfalls

Lava rocks, lava glass, fire glass and landscape glass make a bold statement, and this makes them ideal for large set pieces. For example, they can make any plain wall or non-horizontal surface vibrant and textured. The reason this works is that large 3D shapes are already shocking, so adding texture to it isn’t all that surprising.

Add some running water over them, and you have an exquisite water feature that has a unique textured look. The water blurs the texture even more and integrates the glare in itself. It’s a really great effect that adds vibrancy even to still water.

We are not very fond of the bland slat look of most water features. The clean ceramic look is too similar to a bathroom and should be separate from the garden. We feel the same about pairing stones around water features. Look at rivers and streams, the bottom is either dark and cold or rich and brown in the warmer areas.

Conversely, if you go to an oceanic theme, you are met with dark blues, or emerald tones, Nowhere on earth can water be found on an insipid flat white background outside of the human bathroom. It’s unnatural, clinical and uninspired.

Imagine what a rocky outside shower might look like if you carpet the wall with a rocky layer of volcanic rock? Suddenly the water source becomes a mountain spring, jumping out of pure rock. Think of that central cascade that probably falls over some generic smooth flat blue tiles. Bring it to life, make it go over a rocky surface, make it jump out, dance, agitate and become more than just running water. In nature moving water is turbulent, almost violent sometimes. Bring that character back into your water features.

  1. Earthy tones working together

Again let’s start with lava rock. The red lava rock works great with rich dark green vegetation. It’s a great contrast, and if you have some dark, broody potted plants, I really recommend you get some lava rock gravel and use it as a base under them. Dark lava rocks add a nice background that allows the eyes to focus on even the darkest plants, that pop-up and become more vibrant in comparison. It’s also a great way of ensuring drainage and preventing any moisture from gathering up under thicker more shady plants.

The classic dark lava rock wall is a base foundation for any volcanic, Pacific Islander lush vegetation. Combine it with my previous point and add a little verticality and paste the wall behind the plants with a black volcanic rock. Don’t worry, it won’t be too much when in the same scene you have lush tropical flowers and foliage. It just makes the plants step up their visual game and together will create a very believable jungle feel.

Landscaping glass, on the other hand, works very well with modern landscapes and provides a good accent for some less impressive bright but beige tones. In some situations, where you don’t get too much light in a minimalist restrained scene, landscape glass is probably your only real option to offer a counterpoint to the natural pale stones you have around.

This is where the versatility of this bipolar asset comes into play. With a little light and in small quantities the glare effect adds just enough in smaller crowded spaces, where even small beds of landscaping glass make a huge difference.

Lava glass, fire glass, and the black lava rock also work great on the other side of the spectrum, when they need to compete with the literal Sun for attention. In less crowded, but very well lit scenes. Adding accents to a white sandstone scene under the full brightness of the Mediterranean sun in mid-July is impossible with almost anything else.

The matte blacks of dark lava rock are the only other alternative to a bright sun and pale backgrounds. The texture of lava rock makes it absorb light like crazy, and in even the brightest Sun, lava rock will be the only material that will still be dark and broody.

This makes a bold statement in places like a pale minimalist Japanese garden, adding contrast to a monochrome scene. The addition of the darker earthier elements complements the light almost washed up earthy tones of Japanese design to great effect even in the brightest of sunlight.

  1. …and of course, Fire

Completing the elemental trifecta, lava rocks work great with fire. Their moody, primeval color and texture and heat resistance make them an excellent, smokeless complement to any gas firepit.

An important distinction between lava rock and fire glass is that the matte nature makes lava rocks a good background for large smoldering restrained fires, something that adds character, atmosphere with a natural feel. To get the most out of this effect, use it indoors or as a discreet background light source for moodier and atmospheric gatherings.

Fire glass, however, due to its shiny nature, accentuates the fire, increases the flickering effect and in large indoor fire pits, it can outshine literally everything else if the room is dark enough. So careful about the size of your indoor arrangement if you want to use it as a main light source.

The plus side of that shimmering is that if used in small fires, you get double the shimmering for half the light, and if used properly in large enough rooms with small enough fires, it’s amazingly atmospheric, especially with darker glass with warm tones.

That’s one extreme, let’s check out the other extreme. In the brightest of summers, a large fire glass firepit will outshine the sun and dictate the mood and energy of a lounge area. This works extremely well in modern Mediterranean patios, where the attention-grabbing centerpiece isn’t out of place in the space, bright background. And the large fire and powerful glimmer adds energy in the environment, it just tickles your monkey brain. Again an exquisite experience if done right.

Now, another significant difference is that of heat retention. While lava rock releases heat slowly and provides comfort for longer in brisk summer nights. Fire glass is amazing after it gets heated up, it’s a furnace, becoming a very effective source of heat for even chilly spring morning or autumn late night hangouts.

With the proper mix of large central fire pit filled with glass and small wall mounted atmospheric fire features, you can have a unique garden party that will transition smoothly into an intimate and cozy gathering as the sun goes down making the whole experience extremely rich. This gets turned up to eleven, on a chilly night where you get the latent heat of the large central fire pit, but the light from secondary, discreet wall fires. That gathering suddenly becomes a very unique experience.

  1. Bahama Blend™ Glass

Bahama Blend glass our most popular sold color in our Natural Glass Collection. Remember when I said that if used in small fire features fire glass can not only work but provides an amazing experience even indoors? Double the shimmer, half the light. Well, I decided to expand on this because it will probably the most accessible design tip on this list.

The single most invigorating thing you can do to your fireplace is to replace the old log with a couple of inches of Bahama Blend fire glass. It switches the theme from old grandpa fireplace that feels outdated to a design concept modern fireplace that just uses the impression of old-timey fireplaces as a setting for the light show.

To be fair, if you use the appropriate color glass, dark ruby for dark libraries, bright and shiny with minimalist dark interiors, or golden-amber combos for Christmas gatherings and cozy environment. If you match the size of the fire, with the environment and the color you can achieve that moody, cozy feel.

But that’s hard to figure out for most people and hiring a designer to figure out how much light a room can handle and what color tone the shimmering should be, isn’t really a solution. Not to mention that he can be wrong if she doesn’t take into account secondary light sources or possible external light.

That’s the great thing about Bahama Blend, it’s light, pale tone with just a couple of shimmers of azure blue makes it very understated, and I’ve seen it work in Victorian cast iron stove/fireplaces to redwood log cabin fireplaces, and it works in both of them. That versatility is what makes these Firestones stand out.

Will it be as better than choosing a bespoke glass to fit your furniture and your light source, no honestly, but it’s understated enough that you won’t go wrong with it and you will get that double shimmer effect.

Fire glass is a powerful asset, unlike lava rocks. So normally you can get it wrong. But that’s why Bahama blend works. It brings down the intensity of regular fire glass, and that gives the designer a lot of margins for error. This is the point of this blog and these tips, to give you the knowledge that increases your margin of error and enables you to have the freedom to experiment with the certainty that you won’t mess it up.

  1. Do’s and don’t’s for the jungle…

That’s the difference between something actually powerful and something that is different from the norm. Powerful assets outshine, sometimes literally everything else. The fear is that they become eyesores. But guess what, rectangular turf can also be an eyesore if used as an accent. That rich green can look really weird in an arid themed garden. But still, people do it. As a statement of disobedience towards nature: Look at me, I have water in the desert!

In my own personal opinion, even a glowing red lava rock plucked right out of a volcano isn’t “intense,” it’s an earthy tone. It verges on the side of bland, and it defines what we perceive as natural color tones. It’s literally the easiest tone to blend into other design elements and can serve as an accent, counterpoint to something brighter or background.

Polished Mixed Pebbles 1/2″-1″ – Ideal for Earthy Tones

In a zen garden, you use it as an accent or to frame for a path. Don’t use it as gravel changing the whole theme of restraint and cleanliness. If you know how to use the light you can use dark lava rock walls in a crowded tropical jungle garden without making it too crowded, and dark.

You just have to be sure you get enough light into the scene, so their texture doesn’t get easily overlooked. Low light, thick vegetation, and dark matte tones do the same thing, don’t use all of them at once.

  1. Distracts from man made elements

Just like I don’t like the flat look of most water features, I have an issue with patio furniture.

Patio furniture looks out of place in natural themed gardens. You can see and feel that they are man made. I personally prefer some short walls or flat stones for a natural and improvised lounge area.

But just so you see how versatile lava rock is, the only time I found patio furniture to not be out of place was when it was used in conjunction with a red lava rock gravel.

In a Spanish Arabian style rooftop garden in the Algarve. It’s something weird, but I found that only Arab theme gardens and Zen gardens just integrate artificial fixtures better than other motifs. And the red gravel just unifies the setting so well that everything just looks like it belongs together. The warm reddish cityscape also works well to complement the rooftop garden. So in that scenario, even artificial man-made elements just get pulled into the theme.

The best way I can describe it is that it was just like flagstone paths. On their own, they look manufactured, but when integrated into a path with some red gravel, you believe it despite the bolder contrast.

Polished Red Lava Rock 1/2″-1″

The red gravel lava rock makes a bolder statement, especially when combined with a pale flagstone. It’s like the light is seduced by the contrast and stops noticing the artificial feel of the individual element.

Similarly, when the whole environment murmurs arid Arabic style. Even bold modern features get engrossed by it, and they become Arabic themselves. Note, you still need some unimposing white elements, bring bold red, art nouveau still won’t work.

Zen gardens have the same effect for dark and black patio furniture, but if pulled off correctly this could work with most solid colors or pleasant patterns. Pushing you into modernism. Just don’t use more than one accent color, that goes too far.

  1. You should try it

So let me tell you what inspired this post. I visited this friend of mine last summer in Sicily who lived in the middle of a polluted city. Her back yard barely had any direct light, but she had a quaint herb garden. Keeping with Italian tradition, she loves to cook, and everything needs to be fresh. While there I notice that she used grounded terracotta roof tiles to keep the moisture in the ground during the hot Sicilian summer. Now you would say, that esthetically it’s too bold. It’s an improvised solution. But in that Mediterranean city, in that hot summer among those old Arabic inspired buildings. But it worked even bright red terracotta, as a background for an urban improvised herb garden in the bright noon Sun. I shared my company with her and educated her on what we use landscape and hobby glass for in regards to vegetation. I bursted her bubble as she was sure her use of teracotta in the plants was a unique feature. The teracotta looked amazing with her herbs and it looked very similar to our polished red pebbles.

My point of adding this story in is don’t be affraid to get creative and try different colors out when choosing your lava rock. This is the one feature in your house or landscape that you can experiment with and you cannot mess up. Innovate and experiment like my friend did with her teracotta. Move the environment around it and integrate it. That experience will give you more hands on design experience than any strict rule.

We once had no rules, we discovered them in stages by experimenting, and too many people forget that. The experiment creates the rule, not the other way around…

8 Landscape Rock and Gravel Types for a Stunning Landscape

When looking to improve your landscape, the first thing you might be inclined to add is plants or mulch. Both of these are excellent choices that we applaud profusely. But – stay with us now – WHAT IF rock and gravel could add just as, if not more, appeal to your landscaping AND save you money on water and maintenance? Friends, let us reveal some of our best suggestions for rock and gravel that adds color, texture and functionality to your hardscape.

1. Decomposed Granite

Decomposed granite is usually reddish-tan and sandy and provides landscapes with a soft, rustic look. This affordable option is often used around trees, garden trails and as a xeriscape ground cover.

2. Pea Gravel

Pea gravel is – you guessed it – the size of a pea, usually 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch in size. Colors range from white to tan to brown. Pea gravel is very versatile, often used to cover driveways and fill spaces between stone pavers. It also serves as a good weed barrier and won’t decompose like mulch.

3. Crushed Granite Gravel

This gravel has larger particles than decomposed granite and provides a nice, natural look for your yard. It makes a good transition between garden plants and pathways.

4. Lava Rock

Composed of actual lava from volcanoes, this rock boasts explosively bold colors, providing a pretty accent to any landscape design. It is ideal for drier climates, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it throughout the night. Lava rock is very lightweight that makes it easy to transport and spread.

Photo courtesy:

5. River Rock

You don’t have to live by a river for your landscape to rock. River rocks are smoother in texture and larger than pea gravel. Pull together their different hues to create pretty garden borders or dry creek beds. While looking pretty, they can also be used to direct drainage through a property.

6. Flagstone

We’re bringing out the big guns for this one. Along with smaller pebbles, larger rocks like flagstone are great for stepping stones, garden paths and walkways between different elements of your landscaping.

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7. Brick Chips

We’re changing things up and going against the grain. This next one isn’t technically a rock, but it’s still a popular choice for hardscapes. Brick chips are made from crushed fragments of bricks (shocking, we know) and come in reddish and brown hues. These chunks are great for driveways and landscaping paths.

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8. Marble Chips

Tell countertops to step aside…marble isn’t just for the kitchen anymore! Marble chips are sleek and classy options to cover soil around container gardens and landscaping design elements. Helpful hint – avoid using them around plants that need high levels of acid since marble changes the pH level of soil.

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From charming rustic pathways to artistic courtyards, rock and gravel will contribute to a versatile landscape. Let us help you choose the best rock for your design and lifestyle. Chat with us today at 970-304-1183.

Other posts you might like:

6 Benefits of a Unique Hardscape

Why Pavers Are Great for Northern Colorado Landscaping

9 of the Most Popular Colorado Landscape Additions

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